PRIVATE DANCER, 2020
"For Nikita Gale’s first solo museum exhibition, the Los Angeles-based artist takes the common, shared experience of music concerts as a starting point for questioning more abstract ideas of spectacle, desire, and labor. Gale’s research-based practice frequently centers on commercially available objects and the ways technologies are used to amplify, reproduce, and define bodies. In the installation at CAAM, a collapsed heap of theatrical lighting trusses lies in the center of the gallery. Gale has collaborated with lighting designer Josephine Wang to program a set of moving stage lights. The lights respond to the inaudible soundtrack of Private Dancer, the 1984 solo album by Tina Turner, an icon the artist has been referencing for over six years.
Despite the work’s minimal appearance, the artist draws on a number of theoretical, literary, and historical sources ranging from the critical writings of performance scholar Philip Auslander and philosopher Theodore Gracyk to the speculative science fiction of J. G. Ballard and the sometimes tragic lived experiences of culture-defining black performers such as Prince, Whitney Houston, and Turner herself. By isolating the technical machinery of live performance in the gallery and separating it from its usual supporting role in an auditory experience, Gale creates an uncanny scenario that serves as a meditation on the limits of the body, the demands of performance, and silence as a political position in which agency and refusal have the potential to intersect.
Nikita Gale: PRIVATE DANCER is curated by Cameron Shaw, Deputy Director and Chief Curator."
--California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Video: HRDWRKR // Stills: Elon Schoenholz